Sunday, July 16, 2006

Matrimonial Hoop Tricks

Who knew that lessons learnt from a dolphin trainer could save a woman's marriage. She recommends that women be like trainers of exotic animals to get their husbands closer to their notion of perfection and in as such easier to love.

Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

Translating that lesson in the context of her husband Scott, she says:

The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn't so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He's an omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.

I can vouch for the efficacy of one particular lesson because I have seen it applied successfully by some women I know who are happily married. As the author recommends, they maintain inscrutable silence when offended by their husband's behavior and then go about their work like nothing happened.

When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

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